Note: There is no transcript for CHAT DAY 2018, which was cancelled due to the Government Shutdown initiated on January 20, 2018.

These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions here.

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can you lose loss of memory when you take marijuana

-dsalinas, Texas

Yes, in the short-term, marijuana has been shown to cause memory loss and problems with learning. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more.

-Ruben Baler

can you lose part of your brain the first time you use pot?and if so,how much?

-JDistler, New Hampshire

no, you can't lose any part of your brain the first time you use pot.

-Ruben Baler

Can you mix different kinds of drugs to get high faster?

-keegan, Ohio

Well, you can mix some drugs together that will result in the two being more potent than either alone. For example a combination of cocaine and heroin can be more potent and have more negative effects than either used along. The 'slang' term for this combination of drugs is known as 'Speedball.' There are big problems with this combo...namely addiction, overdose and death. Does the name Chris Farley mean anything to ya? Not trying to be preachy, but just trying to emphasize that chasing a 'faster high' can be really dangerous and lead to a 'fast death'.

-David Shurtleff

can you or someone with you save your life if you OD?

-chenoahsmall, Vermont

chenoahsmall, if you've overdosed, the chances of being able to save your own life are slim, since you'll likely be incapacitated. Whether a friend can save you or not, will depend on what you've taken and how much. You should never put yourself in this situation and avoid taking/experimenting with drugs.An overdose is a medical emergency. Every moment counts. If you ever encounter someone who has overdosed, call for help immediately! Check to see if they are breathing, and if not, start giving them CPR (only if you know how).

-Dave White

can you over dose on bath salts?

-jc$$, Minnesota

If you mean the 'bath salts' that people buy to get high, the answer is yes you can overdose, and it can be fatal. These 'bath salts' are chemically similar to amphetamine, and have all the adverse effects that stimulants like amphetamine have, such as increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, since these chemicals are not legal and not regulated by the FDA, you really don't know what are in the chemicals you are taking - that is taking a big risk.

-Steve Grant

can you over dose on pain killers??

-adison_s, Pennsylvania

Yes. Absolutely! High doses can cause severe respiratory depression. This risk increases when central nervous system (CNS) depressants are combined with other medications or alcohol. Abuse of opioids (prescription pain-killers), alone or in combination with alcohol or other drugs, can dangerously slow down respiration and lead to death. Overdose is a major concern: the number of fatal poisonings involving prescription pain relievers has more than tripled since 1999.

-Kris Bough

Can drugs make you a schitzophrnic while messing up your mind in the process?

-cramirez, Texas

This is a very controversial question. These drugs are often called psychotomimetic because they produce effects that seem similar to psychotic disorders, such as delusional thinking or sensory distortions. However, further studies found that the effects of these drugs are different in many ways from pscychotic disorders. But what is most dangerous about these drugs is that the effects are unpredictable. Some people have severe adverse reactions when they take these drugs, even if they had taken them before and not had a problem. These experiences can be so terrifying to some people that they can be haunted by them for a long time.

-Steve Grant

Can drugs make you smart or is there even a drug that makes you a little more intellegent?

-popkenblake, Iowa

Thanks, such a great question!there are indeed drugs that can help you focus, pay more attention, or study for longer periods of time. These types of drugs are called cognitive enhancers, but no drug that I know of that will make you smarter or more intelligent.Hope this helps

-Ruben Baler

can extasy harm you besides that its addicting

-cameron, Ohio

Yes, because some research shows that it can damage serotonin neurons in the brain. These neurons help control emotions and a sense of well-being. Using ecstasy increases risk for depression later, even after a person stops using. Some other research on regular users suggest that they have memory problems.

-Jim Bjork

can hand sanitizer get you high?

-smartinez, Illinois

Yes, because it contains ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages. However, it can also make a person extremely sick due to the other ingredients in it. That's why the instructions make clear that hand sanitizer is for external use only.

-Aaron White

can heroin kill you

-julian, Texas

Yes, by suppressing the part of your brain that tells your chest to breathe. Even if a person doesn't overdose and die, recent data using brain scans of long-time users shows that heroin actually shrinks parts of your brain-- especially the gray matter! It also can effect the white matter in the brain that connects cells together, though the white matter might recover a bit once people stop using. In addition, the brain gets used to the molecules, and makes adjustments, that might require more and more heroin over time to get the same high. A great risk can be the other junk in street heroin besides the heroin itself. Sharing dirty needles is an EXTREME risk to get HIV and AIDS.

-Jim Bjork

can i smoke everyday and still live?

-pandas, Maryland

Yes, if you are talking about cigarettes, but probably not nearly as long. Even if lung cancer doesn't kill you prematurely, the increased chance of heart disease will.

-Jim Bjork

can you get addicted to methamphetamine after only one time of use?

-fi, New York

Good question, but it really is hard to specifically answer this. Addiction really depends on lot of factors...such as the drug that you are taking, how much you are taking, and it depends on your own individual vulnerability to the specific drug. We also know that some people can be more sensitive to a drug's effects and therefore can be more vulnerable to becoming addicted than others. What we do know is that we can become addicted to all drugs of abuse and methamphetamine is a particularly addictive drug as it has very powerful reinforcing effects. So the risk of addiction with meth is pretty great.To learn more about understanding drug abuse and addiction, please see: http://drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/understand.html.

-Joe Frascella

Can you get addicted to prescription medicine?

-fort settlement, Texas

Abuse of prescription medications like OxyContin is a big problem, not only for adults, but also for teens. In fact, in 2010, 1 out of 20 10th and 12th grade students have used OxyContin for non-medical reasons in the past year. Using these drugs for reasons, other than a doctor prescribes, can lead to bad consequences. For example, misuse or abuse of OxyContin can lead to drug addiction, overdose and death (almost 15,000 unintentional opioid overdose deaths total in the U.S. in 2008) -- not good!! Need more information about prescription drugs? Click on: http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/prescription.html

-David Shurtleff

Can you get any kind of cancer from drugs or drinking?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yes. Smoking, for example, is highly correlated with lung cancer. In fact, smokers are about 10 to 20 times more likely to get lung cancer and about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women are due to smoking. Also, chewing tobacco and alcohol, for example, can lead to oral cancers of the mouth and throat. For more information, check out: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/DietandPhysicalActivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer

-Kris Bough

Can you get cancer from drug usage?

-fluffy779, Iowa

Yes, you can. Cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol can all increase one's chances of getting cancer. In fact, even being around people who smoke can increase your chances of getting lung cancer. In the US, second hand smoke contributes to about 3000 cases of lung cancer each year.

-Dave Thomas

Can you get drunk off of hand sanitizer?

-Logan~~W, Pennsylvania

Yes, because it contains ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages. However, it can also make a person extremely sick due to the other ingredients in it. That's why the instructions make clear that hand sanitizer is for external use only.

-Aaron White

can you get drunk off of orange juice?

-cooldude78, New York

No. But, you might be surprised to know that fruit juices, like orange juice, can contain small amounts of alcohol. When yeast, which exists naturally in the environment, interacts with the sugar in juice, alcohol gets produced. Luckily, the amount of alcohol is so small that a person literally would have to drink gallons of juice to feel the effects.

-Aaron White

can you get drunk on this new mix called jenkem?

-urmom, Michigan

Fortunately, 'jenkem' does not appear to be a real drug and was a hoax that circulated a few years ago. It was supposed to be a hallucinogen made from fermented human waste. Not real, though! Gross!!!!

-Aaron White

Can you get drunk or high off of rubbing

-Talia, Pennsylvania

You should never consume the kind of alcohol that is in rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol. The only type of alcohol safe for human consumption is ethyl alcohol, such as in beer and wine

-Aaron White

Can you get drunk or high off of rubbing alcohol?

-Talia, Pennsylvania

You should never consume the kind of alcohol that is in rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol. The only type of alcohol safe for human consumption is ethyl alcohol, such as in beer and wine.

-Aaron White

Can you get drunk quicker if you mix alchohols

-Thursty, Iowa

In general, no. All alcoholic beverages contain the same key ingredient -- ethyl alcohol.

-Aaron White

can you get high from eating mcribs

-ajbuoy, Indiana

Not high, just fat.

-Joni Rutter

can you get high off germ ex

-blulf, Nebraska

Yes, a person could get drunk off of hand sanitizer like Germ Ex because it contains ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages. However, it can also make a person extremely sick due to the other ingredients in it. That's why the instructions make clear that hand sanitizer is for external use only.

-Aaron White

Do drugs effect your brain?

-Julie, Ohio

Yep. Drugs of abuse are molecules that bind or cling to certain molecules on the surface of brain cells (or inside cells), like a key might fit snugly into a lock. They tend to fit because they happen to be shaped like molecules our brains normally have floating around. Many of these drug molecules have a positive effect, like relieving pain, by interfering with the pain system of the brain, or can improve attention in focus for people whose brains aren't 'tuned' well. Most drugs and certainly alcohol, actually changes the structure and shape of parts of the brain, and can even shrink them! Recent data using brain scans of long-time users shows that heroin actually shrinks parts of your brain-- especially the gray matter! It also can effect the white matter in the brain that connects cells together, though the white matter might recover a bit once people stop using. The other serious risk is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it. Over time, the brain can form powerful associations between things we see in the environment that lead to experiencing drugs and alcohol, and ultimately the high. In addition, the brain gets used to the molecules, and makes adjustments, that might require more and more drug over time to get the same high. This is especially true for nicotine in cigarettes or heroin. The body suffers too, as people stop taking care of themselves in other areas (like diet) as their lives become all about getting the next hit of drug or alcohol. Most people who regularly use drugs or alcohol can stop themselves at some point and walk away from it. However, depending on the drug, a fraction of people who use it repeatedly will ultimately lose control and get addicted, and it will truly wreck their life- either permanently, or the drugs will leave people in a useless fog for many years, until they can get themselves together. This happened to some close relatives of mine. Not worth the risk, I say!

-Jim Bjork

do drugs have any good affects

-IMS301, Louisiana

Yes, especially prescription medications that were developed to treat conditions like severe pain. The issue is, that a certain proportion of people who use a mind-affecting drug will lose control over it (get addicted), making it risky. If you're one of those who ends up getting addicted, it could really affect your life, and depending on the drug, pattern of use and luck, could do some physiological damage.

-Jim Bjork

do drugs have the same chemical structure as the neurons in your brain? how do they affect your brain

-yes, Iowa

yes indeed. Drugs of abuse are molecules that bind or cling to certain molecules on the surface of brain cells (or inside cells), like a key might fit snugly into a lock. They tend to fit because they happen to be shaped like molecules our brains normally have floating around. Many of these drug molecules have a positive effect, like relieving pain, by interfering with the pain system of the brain, or can improve attention in focus for people whose brains aren't 'tuned' well. Some drugs, like cocaine or methamphetamine or other strong 'stimulants' can increase heart rate suddenly, however, putting the user at risk of heart attack or stroke. The other serious risk is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it. Over time, the brain can form powerful associations between things we see in the environment that lead to experiencing drugs and alcohol, and ultimately the high. This is especially true for nicotine in cigarettes or heroin. The body suffers too, as people stop taking care of themselves in other areas (like diet) as their lives become all about getting the next hit of drug or alcohol. Most people who regularly use drugs or alcohol can stop themselves at some point and walk away from it. However, depending on the drug, a fraction of people who use it repeatedly will ultimately lose control, and it will truly wreck their life- either permanently, or the drugs will leave people in a useless fog for many years, until they can get themselves together. This happened to some close relatives of mine. Not worth the risk, I say!

-Jim Bjork

do drugs heart your hart

-bloody guns, Iowa

Yes, many do. The ones that are most damaging to your heart are cocaine and methamphetamine.

-Nora Volkow

Do drugs make people calm or make them worse

-IMS408, Louisiana

Most drugs of abuse can be classified as stimulants or depressants. Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, wake people up, make them more active, speed up their heart rate, increase their blood pressure and other effects. Depressants, such as heroin, do the reverse. Both are dangerous. For more information about stimulants and depressants, check out www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-Dave Thomas

Do drugs make u not drive well?

-?????????, Iowa

Yes, drugs like alcohol and marijuana can impair your perception and motor coordination, both of which you need to drive well and react appropriately. For example, marijuana is the most common illegal drug found in drivers who die in accidents (around 14 percent of drivers), often in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Combining marijuana with drinking even a small amount of alcohol greatly increases driving danger, more than either drug alone. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more.

-Ruben Baler